The Capture of King Henry VI

Contrary to what you heard if you were watching The White Queen on Sunday evening, Henry VIthe Earl of Warwick did not capture King Henry VI after his defeat at the Battle of Hexham. Henry was not even in Northumberland.  He fled westwards and was given shelter by Sir John Pennington at Muncaster Castle. When he left Muncaster, he gave the Penningtons his glass drinking bowl, telling them that the family would always have a male heir if it was never broken. Now known as ‘The Luck of Muncaster’ it is still at the castle and the Penningtons have never lacked a son to inherit.

After leaving Muncaster, Henry went to live with the Pudsay family at Bolton Hall in Bolton-by-Bowland.  It was whilst he was here that he divined a well, still known as KingShould I drink this? Henry’s Well.  It is on private land and the owners began to bottle the water from it a few years ago, but sadly the business was not profitable.  It is also said that King Henry was the designer of the tower of the village church of St Peter and St Paul.

The tower of the church at Bolton by Bowland, said to have been designed by Henry VI.
The tower of the church at Bolton by Bowland, said to have been designed by Henry VI.

Having left his drinking bowl at Muncaster, he left behind his boots, gloves and a spoon at Bolton when he moved on to Waddington Hall in the nearby village of Waddington.

He lived at Waddington Hall for about a year, but local Yorkist supporters discovered his whereabouts and one day, just as he was about to sit down to dinner with Dr Manning, the Dean of Windsor, armed men burst into the hall. Members of the Talbot family, Sir John Tempest and Sir James Harrington were instrumental in the capture of the king, who fled from the hall down a secret stone staircase and tried to escape by crossing the River Ribble by the Hipping Stones (stepping stones) close to where Brungerley Bridge now spans the river.  However he was captured soon after in Clitheroe Wood.

The church of St Helen at Waddington has a stained glass window depicting Henry VI on the right.
The church of St Helen at Waddington has a stained glass window depicting Henry VI on the right.

A grant of one hundred marks was made by King Edward IV to Sir James Harrington “for his services in taking prisoner, and with holding as such in diligence and valour his enemy Henry, lately called King Henry VI.” The king, however, was not so pleased with James that he returned his castle at Hornby to him.

It is said that Henry was held overnight at Clitheroe Castle before being taken to London on horseback with his legs tied to his horse’s stirrups.

Here is an extract from Baine’s History of the County Palatine of Lancaster, Division Ninth, Blackburn Hundred, published in 1831:

‘Waddington Hall, in the Yorkshire part of this parish, afforded an asylum for twelve months to the unfortunate Henry VI after the Battle of Hexham, but at length his retreat was discovered by the prying eye of Sir James Harrington, aided by Thomas Talbot, the son of Sir Edmund Talbot, and his cousin, John. The Royal fugitive, when he found that he was betrayed, escaped across the Ribble, over Brungerley Hipping (Stepping) Stones, and sought concealment in Clitheroe Wood, but being hotly pursued he was taken, and ignominiously conveyed to London.’

4 thoughts on “The Capture of King Henry VI

  1. Simon Harrington June 24, 2013 — 9:19 pm

    Glad to see Harringtons getting recognition at last! The castle would have been nice as well though.

  2. I’ve been watching it, despite the fact I didn’t like the book (I’m not a Philippa Gregory fan), and I knew the bit about Warwick capturing Henry VI was all wrong, and I was desperately trying to remember the details, so thank you for putting tings straight!

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